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Two completely distinct occurrences in the past week crystallized for me why we can get so confused and unfocused about fitness.

Those who waste their valuable time reading these pages know that I’m currently pretending to train for the January 1 Commitment Day 5K and that my ambivalence about this preparation is directly related to my general ambivalence about running. So my heart was lifted when I stumbled upon a piece by Gretchen Reynolds in the New York Times highlighting new research from the National Walkers Health Study showing that walking — especially brisk walking — helped people live longer.

This, of course, is good news to ambivalent runners like myself, and it came to my attention the same day that our first major snowfall of the season forced me to leave my bicycle in the garage and hoof it to and from work. Not at a rapid clip, mind you — icy conditions call for mindful strides — but with enough exertion that I was ready to shed my jacket at the top of the hill.

Walking has a distinctly different effect on your body than does bicycling.

Your calves loosen, hammies and quads catch a break, and your knees are bearing weight. All of which is good preparation, it seems to me, for a 5K jog around downtown Minneapolis in three weeks.

Just as I’m getting comfortable with the idea that all this snow will actually benefit my training regimen (such as it is), I get a note from Big D, convener of our winter basketball league, requesting my presence at tomorrow’s inaugural game. This, of course, will involve running — lots of it — but the sort of purposeful movement that suits my practical nature (if 60-year-olds stumbling around a basketball court can be called practical).

So, now it looks like I’ll be walking and running in the days leading up to my dreaded 5K. Not because I want to, but because I have to. I could call this a comprehensive, integrated training program, but that, of course, would be a lie. Let’s just call it bowing to reality.

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